The new Golf debuted in January, and VW has been teasing camouflaged prototypes of its performance variants ever since. While we still don’t get to see what’s actually under the cover—that should come at a later date—we do know what the new Golf R Mk8.5 is packing.

This is the most powerful VW Golf R in history. It has an upgraded turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with 329 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque. That represents a 14-horse increase and an extra 15 lb-ft over the previous Golf R. There are even rumors of a more powerful Golf R Clubsport.

It takes 4.8 seconds for the new Golf R to hit 62 miles per hour—or 4.6 seconds with the optional Performance pack. The previous version reached 60 mph in 4.5 seconds, but we’ll have to wait for official US figures to see if this one is quicker. Its top speed is limited to 155 mph but jumps to 167 mph with the Performance pack.

All-wheel drive with torque vectoring still comes standard, as expected, but a seven-speed DSG automatic is the only gearbox. As confirmed by VW: “The manual transmission will not be available after MY2024 for Golf GTI and Golf R.”

One of the features that does carry over is drift mode. VW calls it the Drift Performance Profile, and activating this drive mode sends up to 100 percent of power to the rear wheels for tire-burning fun. That torque vectoring technology also works when cornering; It distributes up to 100 percent of power to the outer wheel to reduce understeer. The same 18-inch brakes from last year also carry over.

Volkswagen Golf 8.5 R, the preview test

This new Golf R sits nearly an inch lower than the previous version and uses a MacPherson front axle with a four-link rear. The Dynamic Chassis Control (DCC) adaptive suspension—which adjusts the steering, suspension, and throttle response—now comes standard in Germany. DCC came standard in the US for 2024, so we expect that to still be true for 2025.

We can make out some new visual cues hidden underneath the camouflage. Redesigned bumpers and fresh LED light fixtures make up most of the updated front end. The back of the new Golf R will have IQ.Light LED taillights (inspired by VW’s electric models) with a 3D design. It will roll on special 18-and 19-inch wheels with R badges.

The interior gains a 12.9-inch touchscreen and a 10.2-inch digital instrument cluster, both with custom R graphics, a GPS lap timer for the track, and a G Meter for measuring 0-60 mph times. The bad news? The same touch sliders from the previous Golf carry over, but we already know they will at least be illuminated. You can also get a head-up display as an option.

We still don’t know key details like price and availability, but we should know more about the 2025 Golf R when it goes on sale in the US, likely later in the year.

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Last Update: June 11, 2024

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